With the Sydney Hobart, Melbourne and Launceston Hobart races behind them, Australian sailors are looking ahead to Victoria’s Festival of Sails which starts at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Williamstown on Saturday January 21 and finishes in Geelong on Sunday 29 January 2012.
High profile Geelong sailor Rob Hanna’s is aiming for a win in his first 2012 Regatta after a less than satisfying Rolex Sydney Hobart race.
‘The Hobart race was frustrating. My 52 footer Shogun IV was well place early but we parked up for hours and watched boats sail around us. But we are putting that all behind us.
‘Today we are heading south from Sydney with Shogun V, the new boat.
‘She was launched on April 10th 2011 and she is a Vrolijk-designed carbon composite TP52, campaigned in 2011 as Audi Azzurra Matador.
‘In TP terms she is a bit radical, quite beamy and exceptionally good off the breeze or downwind. It’s not the fastest upwind but her great strength is downwind. It’s a pretty nice boat.’
Shogun IV was built at the Club Nautico de Valencia, in a project managed by King Marine.
As Alberto Roemmers’ Matador (ARG) the boat won the final race in the Region of Sardinia Trophy, the fifth and final regatta of the Audi MedCup Circuit 2011 season, finishing second overall. She was then shipped to Sydney for Rob Hanna.
Hanna continued. ‘We only had it in the water about three days before the Rolex Regatta sailed off Sydney Heads and we came second in that regatta.’
There was general agreement amongst the IRC fleet that it was a remarkable effort for Hanna and his crew to achieve such a good result with so little boat time.
Looking ahead its plain that Shogun V will keep Marcus Blackmore’s all conquering Hooligan honest in the coming season.
Hanna commented ‘In the Rolex Trophy series, we had our chances. Certainly the conditions didn’t suit her.
‘For four days we floated around in six, seven and eight knots. This boat has been designed for a breeze and the moment it gets to ten knots the boat starts to light up.
‘We are really looking forward to the traditional Australia Day Festival of Sails passage race from Williamstown to Geelong’s Corio Bay on January 26th.
‘We found that in the Rolex Trophy series if we got some breeze, we were the fastest of the TP52’s on a downhill run and if we get good breezes in that race as we often do, it will be a blast.
‘We race on both Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd on Port Phillip and then from Australia Day to the Sunday (29th).
‘There will be good competition in the Festival of Sails IRC fleet, with possibly the sharpest in our 52 foot group.
‘We believe we are very competitive against Jim Farmer’s Georgia, Justin Van der Slot’s Calm and Robert Date’s Scarlet Runner.
‘Given a breeze, at least I think I am taking ‘a gun to a gun fight’ rather than a knife’ he laughed.
It was an impressive Hobart race from Van der Slot’s Reichel Pugh 52 Calm and Robert Date’s Scarlet Runner, with the two boats finishing eighth and 11th on the water a respectively, ahead of the 83 foot Brindabella (to this day Brindabella still holds the record for the fastest conventionally ballasted boat ever to sail to Hobart). Van der Slot and Date are both looking forward to the Festival of Sails.
But the Australian sailors will not have it all their own way. Sailing at Geelong will be Jim Farmer’s TP52 Georgia, a sister ship to Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan. Farmer, one of the highest profile New Zealand big boat sailors, will no doubt have a crew stacked with some of the biggest names on the America’s Cup scene.
For Festival of Sails 2012 the organising club, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, has announced that with the confirmation of a number of new sponsors they have been able to reduce the entry fees by up to 38% .
This 168 year old multi award winning event is a permanent fixture on the Victorian Major Events calendar, attracting over 400 yachts and 4,500 competitors to Melbourne and Geelong over the Australia Day holiday period.
Festival of Sails Event Manager and Olympic Gold medallist Mark Turnbull is hopeful the entry fee subsidy will enable more yachts to participate in what is Australia’s largest sailing regatta. 'Events such as the Festival of Sails would not be possible without the continued support of Government and Corporate sponsors, as currently the costs of delivering the regatta components of major sailing events are not covered by the entry fees that are accessible to the wider sailing community.
‘The Events competitor and entry management partner EventOffice have also helped RGYC to reduce the administrative costs associated with entry and competitor management, which has also enabled the event to pass these savings onto entrants.
‘The Mariner Boating prize of a trip for two (2) people to participate in the 2013 Aegean Yacht rally is valued in excess of $15,000 and will be drawn from entrants who have correctly completed all entry and crew details online at the close of entries. ‘The lucky skipper will be able to take part in the 14 day rally along the Aegean Sea, where the fleet will visit the Greek Dodecanese Islands and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.’